The other day, in a big group of people, someone said no, they hadn’t watched Big Little Lies yet, and then commented, “It’s not about how cool you are for the shows you watch anymore, it’s curating listing the shows you don’t have time to watch, but would, if you did.”
This morning I found myself thinking that he’ll have another chance. Big Little Lies may in fact get another season. The article doesn’t say it’s for sure, but says Reese Witherspoon put viewers up to the task of lobbying Liane Moriarty for more story, who in turn says her plans would involve focusing on Bonnie, and more time for Celeste.
While I am inclined to be skeptical because it can be hard to get so many A+ List schedules to align again, Big Little Lies has been such a huge success, and such an overall positive for all the performers and behind-the-scenes people involved, it’s not that hard to believe they could swing it again – especially if Zoe Kravitz’s character takes a more central role, freeing up, say, the Shailene Woodleys of the world to take movie roles if in fact they have them.
I feel very conflicted about this, though. As a viewer, I got a surprisingly satisfying 3-D version of a book I enjoyed, and am very concerned about the idea of diminishing returns. If it’s not as good—and, as William Goldman says, “Sequels are whore’s movies”—we’ll be sad about it. But it goes beyond that…
Because as a television professional, I’m delighted. Look at the success of this all-female show, that nonetheless also has men who are three-dimensional. Recognize that this show is a success on a ‘prestige’ network and not just some perceived pink ghetto ‘for women’ (please don’t misunderstand me; women’s networks have been making incredible creative choices for a long time, just not getting any respect for doing it. Right, UnREAL?). This only leads to greater enthusiasm for more projects about many women sharing the frame at one time—something we need more of.
Then there’s the fact that this endorsement goes further to thumbing my nose, and our collective noses, at the surprising number of men, television critics and otherwise, who sneered at the show and thought it was trite and little because it was about ‘the mommy wars’ or similar. I had a fascinating discussion with a man I really respect last night who said it was the ads emphasizing the wealth and privilege of the characters that initially turned him off before he watched; that seems to echo other complaints or general reluctance I’ve heard. On the one hand, I don’t want to come off as hypocritical -- as I said on an episode of #ShowYourWork when it was headline news that men were now enjoying Gilmore Girls, “We don’t f*cking care if you like it”, which is me quoting Amy Poehler talking to Jimmy Fallon.
But on the other hand, more is more. More people to enjoy this storytelling with is more people to talk about it with, more people to be aware of things they thought ‘don’t happen’, more commonality. That’s great. That’s what we need more of, and in fact that’s the point of well-told stories. They bring people together.
And then, coming back to me the viewer, or indeed me the reader—the team of Liane Moriarty and producers Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea and Nicole Kidman, with David E. Kelley and Jean-Marc Vallee et al, they gave me something I didn’t know I needed, and expanded it in ways that felt utterly faithful, efficient, and smart. (Who missed Chloe’s older/Abigail’s younger brother Fred? Nobody, that’s who.) So maybe there’s more there that I don’t realize I need in my life. I’m open to the possibility, because telling more stories about more women is only ever a great thing. So, cautiously, I’ll take it however I can get it, knowing it’s the bridge to more, and bigger, and different.
Here is Reese out in LA today after a workout.